Sherrie Levine, Untitled (Gold Knot: 6), 1987. Oil on plywood, 62 1/2 x 50 1/4 inches (159 x 128 cm). Gift of Barbara Lee, The Barbara Lee Collection of Art by Women. Courtesy the artist and David Zwirner New York/London/Hong Kong. © Sherrie Levine
Sherrie Levine is a multimedia artist who works in photography, drawing, painting, and sculpture, among other materials, to create pieces that challenge deeply rooted notions of artistic authenticity, originality, autonomy, the purity of medium, and immutability.
Untitled (Gold Knot: 6) is one of Levine’s series of knot paintings (the name is a pun on “not painting”). Each of these works uses the common building material of plywood, which is composed of many thin layers of wood glued together. Plywood is often used to build crates for artworks, though here the everyday material becomes the material support of a painting. Levine paints in gold over the naturally occurring knots within the wood, a process that again conflates high and low culture, granting a seemingly banal material aesthetic relevance and material worth.
Though fitting in with her oeuvre at large in its critique of modernist concepts, such as the end of painting, Untitled (Gold Knot: 6) complements the other works by Levine in the ICA/Boston’s collection by providing a modification of her signature strategy of appropriation. This piece is also an important reference for works by other artists in the collection, including Louise Lawler and Cindy Sherman, artists who, like Levine, are considered part of the so-called Pictures Generation, known for their appropriation of images and critical examination of popular culture and consumerism.